Couchsurfing for students struggling with accommodation

Sofa promotion. This is not new, each time the academic year begins, the problem of student accommodation arises. Normally, the CROUS struggles to meet the growing demand. This year, it is even worse due to the closure of several residences under renovation. A federation of student associations has launched the “Tiot accueil”, a device allowing you to temporarily make your sofa available to students in difficulty.

the Group of Lille student associations, Galillé, was born in the middle of the coronavirus health crisis, to think about solutions to try to face the difficulties encountered by the students of the University of Lille. Le Tiot accueil is one of them, part of the observation that there is a regular lack of accommodation for young people in higher education in Lille. The federation estimates at a thousand the number of rooms closed for this academic year by the CROUS. Long singled out for unhealthy problems, the Galois residence (636 rooms), on the Cité Scientifique Campus, is closed to be rehabilitated. Two other buildings to be returned to the University are no longer open for rental.

“All you need is a bedroom, a sofa or even a mattress”

Suddenly, it’s a bit of a panic: “In general, many students do not yet have accommodation for this start of the school year, so we have thought of a free emergency accommodation system to give them time. to find, ”explains Marion Fouché, in charge of social and solidarity innovation at Galillé. The student federation thus connects students in demand with individuals ready to welcome them: “All you need is a bedroom, a sofa or even a mattress on the floor. The goal is that the students do not sleep outside, ”she continues.

This system is not intended to be sustainable, insists Galillé. “This can be for one night or even a few weeks, the maximum duration is specified by the host in his information sheet,” continues Marion Fouché. A questionnaire which also details the address, the sleeping arrangements made available. The applicant will also fill out a form and, depending on the compatibilities, he will be put in touch with a volunteer. “Our role ends there, for people then to come to an agreement,” she adds.

Le Tiot accueil was inspired by the “Un lit pour la nuit” initiative, launched in 2020 by Fé2A, a federation of students from Angers. “We had 370 requests for a hundred hosts last year. There, it is even more with 170 requests in a single week ”, explains Sarah Biche, president of Fé2A. The latter fears a sustainability of the system: “There is a shift in responsibility towards a student association for what should be the responsibility of the authorities,” she laments. “We should not be the last bulwark before the street, which is why our action must be accompanied by demands for the renovation of student residences, the revaluation of grants or assistance for co-tenancy”. In Lille, hosting forms are available in line. The opening to applicants is scheduled to take place on September 20.

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